European Union legislation and directives have played a huge role in the development of the UK’s recycling sector, and the results we’ve achieved to date. I’m pretty certain that without the Landfill Directive, we wouldn’t be as far forward as we are today in terms of reclassifying waste as a resource, diverting it away from landfill and developing a secondary commodities market.
I also question whether I would have been running a state of the art Materials Recycling Facility, providing supporting authorities and businesses across the country to improve their sustainability without the impetus provided by the EU.
Leaving aside the bigger political debate about EU membership, the joint statement* issued by the waste industry associations is spot on in relation to our sector. The statement says that the UK’s EU membership has been an ‘advantage’ due to its enforcement of illegal waste shipments and the positive impacts of the Landfill Directive. It also says that EU-driven legislation has ‘sped up’ the ‘modernisation of the waste industry in the UK and improved the environmental impacts of waste’.
If we had walked this path alone, I wonder how far we would have come? But, in terms of this discussion, the most important consideration is the potential impacts to the sector which could be caused by leaving the EU.
We work in a global marketplace, and although our sector has matured significantly, it is easy to see how it could have stagnated or even gone into decline during the last five years without if it hadn’t have been for external forces. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder with our EU peers to ensure that we are part of this global business, and being part of the EU, in whatever form that might take, is just a part of this.
* the statement issued by the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA), the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), the Environmental Services Association (ESA), the Renewable Energy Association (REA), and the Resource Association (RA) – has been issued alongside a summary position, in response to the UK government’s recent EU Balance of Competences Review.
The joint statement can be found here.
An overview of the EU Balances of Competences Review in terms of environment and climate change can be found here.